Other locations could be used for the same purposes, and there are numerous chambers which can used as Drive Rooms aboard Red Dwarf.
- The original, fairly small one in Series I;
- They used another slightly larger one in Series II;
- A third, much smaller auxiliary one in Series X (possibly since the Chameleonic Microbe had destroyed the other Drive Rooms in the last episode of Series VIII).
Novels and comics
In the first novel (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers) of the franchise, the Drive Room is described as dauntingly massive and cavernous, hewn into the central interior of the city-sized ship. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of crewmen are working in it, as opposed to a dozen or so in the television series. Holly's display screen is described as being over 100 metre² in size, and with speakers the size of "a roomy Kensington bedsit."
The Drive Room was also seen in the Red Dwarf Smegazine, where although it was smaller than as described in the novels, it was still much larger and technologically superior to the Drive Rooms seen in the television series.
The first Drive Room seen in the television series was located on Level 147 of Red Dwarf, somewhere around the middle of the ship, close to (and on the same level as) the same stasis booth where Lister spent three million years frozen in time. In size, the original Drive Room was relatively small.
Most of the ship's functions could be controlled from one room - the Drive Room. To all intents this was the bridge and was very busy with personnel before the accident that killed the crew. Workstations lined the walls and crewmembers bustled back and forth alongside skutters. It was however still small and cramped, especially compared with the description given of it in the novels.
The original Drive Room seen in Series I was very lacking in colour, being almost entirely grey; the only significant colour was from the monitors and ceiling and wall lights. There was no large viewscreen for Holly to appear on; only heavily pixellated on one of the smaller monitors. The original Drive Room was also cluttered with loose wiring and server towers. However it was the only one of the Drive Rooms where one could see outer space from inside it, through a barred porthole window.
The Captain's Office was a small room that adjoined the Drive Room. From there, Captain Hollister could oversee his crew's work. The ship's course and direction could be controlled from the Drive Room, as well as the sensors and computer functions. ("The End")
After the accident, Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer would still come to the Drive Room to speak with Holly, use the computers and assist with technical matters. Lister ejected the crew's remains into space from there, through a pneumatic tube in the central circular table (also earlier used to eject George McIntyre's canister), as well as using it as a venue for watching movies. (RD: Confidence and Paranoia) There was a vending machine the original Drive Room, from which Lister got his beer milkshakes from, and the Cat would eat his favorite meals. ("Balance of Power")
In Series II, the Boys from the Dwarf began to use a different looking room to conduct ship's affairs. It was the same set as the original Drive Room, although heavily altered and redressed in line with Series II moving away from the "WWII-era submarine" look of Series I and adding more colour to the sets.
Whether this was a separate area, a completely different Drive Room or simply a different view of the original Drive Room was not established. It was seemingly a different room, given that it appeared larger, had more colour, there was no porthole or window, and also unlike the original Drive Room had a large wall viewscreen for Holly to appear on in all his glory, un-pixellated.
- The scripts for Series II call this Drive Room the Mail Room, although this may be due to the post pod arriving in Better Than Life and being unloaded there.
Series III and above
Series VIII features a nanobot-rebuilt and upgraded Red Dwarf. Although a main and central Drive Room is mentioned for this new Red Dwarf, it is not seen. Captain Hollister is seen issuing commands with senior officers from the cockpit of a Blue Midget in the only occasion he is seen doing so in the series, when hiding out from the dinosaur Pete that was rampaging around Red Dwarf.
In Series VIII the Captain's updated office, accessible via a long and bright tunnel, and the Captain's personal dining suite are both featured, all close-by to the new Drive Room. The fly-bys of the ship would indicated that all these areas are located somewhere atop a large column at the rear of the ship.
It is likely this unseen Drive Room was destroyed by the Chameleonic Microbe.
Back to Earth
No Drive Room is featured in Back to Earth, although the boys seemingly have many controlling consoles on a central column in their sleeping quarters (possibly one of the nanobot-updated Officers Quarters after the officers had evacuated).
It was not until several years later that they began to frequent a different but smaller Drive Room.
According to the Series X DVD documentary "We're Smegged", this Drive Room was "pointed" as it is located at the front of the ship, close to the Front Ramscoop (and also close to the new Series X sleeping quarters).
This room could be accessed via a spiral staircase, with the room flanked by control panels and facing a large viewscreen.
In Series XI, the crew begin to use a new Science Room instead of the Drive Room used in Series X, which is presumably also close to the new sleeping quarters at the front of the ship. The new Science Room is blue-tinged and high-tech, and can act as a Drive Room, Science Room and Medi-Bay all in one.
The original Drive Room was standard ocean grey, but well lit with lots of room. It was a large, open plan area with the Captain's Office accessed by a wide open door.
The alternative room was darker and more enclosed, but with much brighter colours and multiple displays. There were also several computer banks and gaming consoles for the crew to use.
The most recent evolution of the Drive Room matched the rest of the ship, being predominantly red in colour. It was a small room similar in layout to Starbug's cockpit.